The Gambling Commission is fast becoming the ‘billy no-mates’ of regulation with DCMS this week launching an inquiry to evaluate and examine the handling of the ‘competition process’ of the National Lottery’s operating tender.
With the preferred candidate due to be confirmed on 10 September, as little as six weeks away, the government has literally slammed its foot on the accelerator and pulled up the handbrake as it wheelspins its way around the National Lottery tender procedures.
While there’s nothing wrong with scrutiny – no matter how late – the decision will come as a blow to the Gambling Commission which has overseen the process since August 2020. And not necessarily that well it appears, judging from the words of DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP.
“Our concern is not only with the operation of the competition to find the next operator, but also with the Gambling Commission that is overseeing the process,” he said, delivering a gut punch to the regulator which is under intense scrutiny in the gambling review and now the National Lottery tender review.
“Crucially we’ll be asking what measures will be in place to ensure that when profits rise, it’s not just the operator that benefits, but good causes too,” he added.
There are four balls still in the hat: Camelot, SAZKA, Northern & Shell Group and Sisal. And now a fifth – the all-important question in need of an answer: How effectively has the Fourth Competition been run.
A rudderless regulator for several weeks whilst it searched for an interim chief executive following the departure of Neil McArthur during the Football Index storm would certainly not have aided the Commission’s credibility especially as it fell in the crucial build up to the National Lottery decision date.
It’s a busy time for the regulator.